Governor Andrew Cuomo holds each day press briefing on the foot of Mario Cuomo Bridge in Tarrytown, New York, June 15, 2020.
Lev Radin | Pacific Press | LightRocket by way of Getty Images
What a distinction just a few months have made for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo — and never in a great way.
Cuomo final yr was lionized by many who noticed him as a reliable, science-respecting, straight-talking, dad-like counterpoint to then-President Donald Trump’s off-the-cuff, expert-disdaining and often-confusing strategy to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
Cuomo’s each day press conferences detailing the grim Covid-19 statistics in New York and urging residents to take precautions from changing into contaminated grew to become must-see TV for weeks, as did his towel-snapping banter in interviews with CNN anchorman Chris Cuomo — his personal brother.
As a outcome, there was renewed discuss that Cuomo, whose father Mario’s agonizing over whether or not to run for president earned him the sobriquet of “Hamlet on the Hudson,” could be a contender for the Democratic nomination for the White House in 2024, or some place within the federal authorities earlier than that.
Cuomo even scored a deal to write down a guide, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic,” revealed in October — even because the disaster continued to threaten his personal state and elsewhere.
But it’s Cuomo’s managerial strategy to the well being disaster that has led to a political disaster in his administration that threatens his electoral future.
The U.S. Department of Justice is now conducting a criminal probe into nursing dwelling deaths in New York associated to the coronavirus, it was revealed this week. Disclosure of that probe got here weeks after New York’s personal lawyer common, Letitia James, mentioned that deaths associated to these settings had been being underreported by the Cuomo administration by as a lot as 50%.
And Cuomo additionally faces an effort within the state legislature to strip him of his emergency powers, a push that has been fueled by resentment over the governor’s verbal strong-arming of lawmakers who get in his method.
There is even discuss of making an attempt to question Cuomo.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the progressive Democrat whose district encompasses elements of Queens and the Bronx, New York, on Friday issued a press release becoming a member of different elected officers’ request for a “full investigation of the State’s handling of the nursing homes during the pandemic.”
Ocasio-Cortez additionally mentioned she supported “our state’s return to co-equal governance,” a reference to what’s seen as Cuomo’s dominance over the legislative department for years.
“Thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers lost their lives in nursing homes during the pandemic,” she mentioned. “Their loved ones and the public deserve answers and transparency from their elected leadership.”
The distinction between Cuomo’s scenario now and what it was as of final fall was vividly illustrated final week when he left the White House with out talking to reporters after a White House assembly on pandemic reduction and vaccination efforts with President Joe Biden and different governors and mayors.
If that assembly had occurred final summer time, it’s unlikely that Cuomo would have missed the chance to inform journalists his ideas in regards to the sitdown.
But this assembly got here on the heels of a report in The New York Post that Cuomo’s prime aide, Melissa DeRosa, had lately apologized to Democratic lawmakers for withholding the Covid death tally in state nursing houses final yr — when Trump was nonetheless president — due to concern that the statistics would “be used against us” by federal prosecutors.
That apology apparently itself raised the antennae of prosecutors.
On Thursday night time, The Wall Street Journal reported that prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York had sought information on Covid-related nursing dwelling deaths.
The request is “part of a broader inquiry into the state’s handling of the pandemic in those care settings,” in line with sources who spoke to the Journal.
One supply for the article mentioned the information request got here after DeRosa’s apology was reported.
Families of Covid victims and Republican lawmakers in New York final yr had criticized Cuomo for a state Health Department order that required nursing houses to just accept their residents again even when they had been discharged by a hospital with Covid.
Those critics blame that coverage for super-charging the unfold of the virus in nursing houses.
Cuomo, whose press workplace didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark by CNBC, this week mentioned, “My health experts don’t believe it was wrong and we’ve gone through all the facts several times.”
The governor additionally mentioned he had adopted steerage from two prime federal companies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“If we did believe it was wrong, then we would say we believed it was wrong, and we made a mistake following CDC and CMS guidance, and then I would sue the federal government for malpractice on their CDC and CMS guidance,” Cuomo mentioned.
But on Tuesday, 9 Democratic members of the state Assembly despatched their colleagues a letter that accused Cuomo of deliberately obstructing justice in violation of federal criminal legislation. That letter known as for the Assembly to strip the federal government of emergency powers granted him final yr because the pandemic started spreading.
“This is a necessary first step in beginning to right the criminal wrongs of this Governor and his administration,” mentioned the letter, whose signatories included Assemblyman Ron Kim of Queens.
Kim this week mentioned that after he was quoted criticizing the withholding of nursing dwelling information in a New York Post article, he bought a livid telephone name from Cuomo on Feb. 11.
“You have not seen my wrath,” Cuomo warned Kim, in line with the lawmaker. “You will be destroyed,” the governor allegedly mentioned, in line with Kim.
Kim additionally instructed The Post that the governor mentioned, “I can tell the whole world what a bad person you are, and you will be finished.”
In an interview with NBC New York, Kim mentioned, “He spent 10 minutes berating me, yelling at me, threatening me and my career, my livelihood.”
Kim’s spouse, who purportedly heard Cuomo as a result of he was so loudly berating the assemblyman, was so shook up by the governor’s threats that she “didn’t sleep that night,” Kim mentioned.
Cuomo’s spokesman Rich Azzopardi instructed The Post that Kim was “lying about his conversation with Gov. Cuomo.”
“I know because I was one of three other people in the room when the phone call occurred,” Azzopardi mentioned, in line with The Post.
“At no time did anyone threaten to ‘destroy’ anyone with their ‘wrath’ nor engage in a ‘cover up.'”
Kim had not backed down together with his claims.
During an look Friday on ABC’s “The View,” Kim mentioned, “Cuomo is an abuser.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who usually has been a whipping boy for Cuomo, instructed MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” present that the decision to Kim was “classic Andrew Cuomo.”
“A lot of people in New York state have received those phone calls, you know, the bullying is nothing new,” de Blasio mentioned.
“I believe Ron Kim, and it’s very, very sad — no public servant, no person who’s telling the truth should be treated that way.”